At the Sundance Film Festival last month, the Rally.org team met and got to know Sam French, the director of “Buzhakshi Boys,” a new film about two boys growing up in war-torn Afghanistan.
The 28-minute film was a Sundance success story, and in January it got the nod for an Oscar nomination in the Best Live Action Short Film category. (See the trailer below.) French, who has been living in Afghanistan for the past five years, got back in touch with the Rally.org team and said he wanted to raise money to bring the two young actors who star in the movie to Los Angeles for the Oscars.
It just so happened that the online fundraising platform had a brand new tool that could help out. Rally had just rolled out Covers, which it is announcing publicly today, a new feature that lets users embed a donation form into a piece of video content.
And so French put together a video package telling the story of the actors, and explaining that he wanted to bring them to Hollywood to celebrate the achievement. Using the Covers feature, which is hosted on the Rally.org website, he added a form that could be accessed by clicking on a tab that sits at the bottom of the screen while the video plays and reads “I’m in.” Once clicked on, the tab pauses the video and brings up a form with options for how much to donate. You can then enter your credit card details without leaving the video page. Once you’re done, you just resume watching the video to the end. And if you make it to the end of the video without having clicked on the tab, the form automatically takes over the page anyway. And, naturally, you can share the video via Facebook or Twitter.
The fundraising drive has so far raised more than $10,000, according to the AP. One of the two actors, 14-year-old Fawad Mohammadi, has spent his life selling maps and dictionaries to foreigners on a street of trinket shops, says the AP. He has never left Afghanistan. His co-star, Jawanmard Paiz, also 14, has been acting in films since he was 5 years old and has attended Cannes.
Rally.org founder and CEO Tom Serres says the fundraising drive has been so successful, however, that the money might not even end up going to the airfares. Thanks to the publicity and viral spread of the campaign, a major airline has come forward to offer free flights for the boys. The deal is yet to be confirmed, but if it goes ahead the money raised from the campaign will instead go into a college fund for Mohammadi and Paiz.
Rally also announced today that it is going global. After a year of quietly setting up an operation in Berlin, where 35 socially minded organizations have been working from its RallyPad co-working space, the startup is now accepting Euros. It will soon roll out support for 16 other currencies, giving it a large global footprint. While the company got started in the US by focusing on political campaigns, it is taking a broader approach to Europe right from the get-go, targeting causes that range from urban greenspaces to churches to local clubs.